Forest, Va. -- From Indiana Jones to NCIS, it's fun to solve a good mystery.  There is, after all, a little detective in all of us.  Now, the archaeologists at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest are offering families a chance to go behind-the scenes in the Archaeology Laboratory and find out together how to be a detective-archaeology style. 


Poplar Forest's Archaeology Lab, which is normally closed to the public, will open for this special, reservation-only program on Saturday May 19th from 8 am to noon.  This fun, hands-on opportunity gives parents or grandparents a unique way to spend quality time with their children and grandchildren.  This detective experience is ideally suited for children in grades 3 through 6.  


Families will learn from the professional archaeologists how archaeological detectives figure out what they have found and what stories the artifacts tell.   Participants can discover how to record and handle artifacts, "cross-mend" broken pieces of objects, research an artifact to figure out things like what it is and when it may have been made, and drawing techniques to record their findings.  


Because this is hands-on learning, space is limited so anyone interested in participating should sign up early.  Advance registration is required by Friday May 18th.


What makes this unique is that a parent or grandparent can experience it with their child or grandchild. "We created this special program because parents dropping off their children for our annual summer day-camp in archaeology and restoration so often told us how much they wished they could participate with their children," said Poplar Forest's Director of Education, Octavia Starbuck.  "This is hands-on quality time for parents or grandparents and children in an exceptional learning experience."


"Archaeology is fun because it's about being a detective!   But it's a great way for children to learn how to closely observe their surroundings and really think about what they can figure out from what they find," said Poplar Forest president Lynn A. Beebe. "It's finding clues and figuring out what happened.  And sometimes it's thinking carefully about what conclusions you can draw from an artifact vs. what you can't... until you find another clue."


The cost for the Archaeology Lab program is $25 per adult/child team.   


To register, call the Museum Shop at Poplar Forest:  434- 534-8120 (hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.).    Register by May 18th for the May 19th program.   For more information contact Octavia Starbuck, Director of Education and Interpretation: or 434 534-8108.



Poplar Forest, one of only two homes Thomas Jefferson designed and built for his own use, is a National Historic Landmark.  Located in Forest, Virginia, this private retreat was begun during Jefferson's second term as President of the United States, and served as a place of refuge in Jefferson's later years.  A working plantation with historically important landscape design, Poplar Forest is overseen by the non-profit Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest, whose mission is to rescue, preserve and restore Thomas Jefferson's plantation retreat to the highest possible standards of quality and stewardship and to be an innovative educational catalyst inspiring insight into the past, the present, and the future.